So let’s go back to the summer of 1978. I was still a wee splinter, about eight-years-old. And the Star Wars franchise was only a year old. In fact, it wasn’t even technically a franchise yet. Only one movie existed, just one. Oh, we had the Marvel comics; there was an abominable Christmas Special that’s best forgotten; and I think Mark Hamill had been on The Muppet Show by then. And that, my friends, was it.
Till that summer of ’78. One day, I found a little paperback called The Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. Subtitled from the further adventures of Luke Skywalker, the novel was indeed from the further fucking adventures of Luke Skywalker, and oh Jesus was I ready for more! Snatched this beautiful book off the shelf and ran out with it. Almost literally. (Think my mother might have insisted on paying for it, not sure didn’t care.)
It was written by Alan Dean Foster, who was the actual writer of the novelization of the Star Wars movie. For contractual reasons, George Lucas was credited as the author of the novelization, but it was really Mr. Foster. I didn’t know that at the time, but ADF would become one of my favorites after reading Splinter, that’s for sure.
I won’t spoil it, except to say that sadly none of it counts. (Those crazy Marvel Comics from the time between the first two films don’t count, either. They were fun as hell the same as this novel.) Splinter takes place between the end of the first film and the next (which remember didn’t exist yet!) and follows Luke and Leia to a planet called Circarpous. Just Luke and Leia, by the way. And the droids. No Han, no Chewie, but no problem. To me, Luke was the man. It seemed that Han was the fan favorite after the first movie, and I thought that was a bit weird. Dudes, Luke’s the hero! Han’s the sidekick! Anyway, Splinter is all about Luke. He gets stronger in the Force, his feelings deepen for Leia (yeah, they were siblings but they didn’t know, give them a break), and even confronts Vader in the last act. The book was so full of action that a lot of people thought it was going to be the sequel.
Looking back, of course, there’s no way this could have been the sequel. It contradicts most of what The Empire Strikes Back would bring to the series. I don’t even care, though, because the book is just so great. It makes me kind of wish Lucas had gone in that direction. You would realize why he couldn’t in the light of where the overall story had to go, but it’s still hard not to feel that Splinter of the Mind’s Eye should be official. It definitely blew my little mind. I remember actually alternating between this novel and the Bible that summer. Yeah. When I was still a kid I started reading the Holy Bible, fully intending to read the whole bloody thing. Never pulled that off, though, but I think I made my way through Splinter at least four times.
This book caused me to buy anything Alan Dean Foster put his name on by the way. He’d go on to write a ton of film-novelizations, but also plenty of original series in the SF and Fantasy genres. If you’ve never heard of him, he’s an author worth checking out. A very prolific writer with a lot of excellent novels.
So this is not really a review. This one is just so beloved by me it’s unreviewable. In case you missed it, though, and you consider yourself a fan of the films, you really must check this book out. It may not be official, but it’s the best Star Wars novel ever. No contest.